Alcatel-Lucent is using a combination of its own technologies and partnerships to make a push into the burgeoning video-collaboration space.
The aim of the vendor's Visual Collaboration suite, announced July 25, is to offer video-conferencing solutions that are simple to use and less costly than current products from larger rivals, while still offering the high-end user experience businesses are looking for, according to Lizardo Espinosa, director of product marketing for enterprise communications at Alcatel-Lucent.
"We are trying to get into [the part of] the market that can't afford to pay for telepresence, but wants that same telepresence experience," Espinosa said in an interview with eWEEK.
And Alcatel-Lucent is looking to give businesses that high-end enterprise video experience on a wide range of endpoints, from PCs and display screens in conference rooms and offices to smartphones, tablets and laptops. The idea of offering high-end video conferencing to any endpoint is a key factor for most video-communications vendors-including Cisco Systems, Polycom, Vidyo and Logitech's LifeSize Communications business-as businesses see an increasing percentage of their workforces going mobile or working remotely.
Alcatel-Lucent officials are looking to offer enterprises and mid-market companies a video-communications solution that is cost-effective, high quality and easy to use, Espinosa said. Video collaboration promises greater productivity and reduced costs for many companies, but issues of quality, cost and security are holding back adoption.
The vendor is working with SMART Technologies, Radvision and LifeSize in building out the offerings in the Visual Collaboration suite with infrastructure, applications and endpoints. Through the Alcatel-Lucent offerings, business users can easily contact each other on any device, establish a video link and share content, according to the vendor, via easy-to-use interfaces, drag-and-drop capabilities and presence.
Key among the offerings is Alcatel-Lucent's interactive Whiteboard Solution, which leverages the vendor's My Teamwork application with the SMART Board 685ix interactive whiteboard system for greater workgroup collaboration. Through the whiteboard, participants in disparate conference rooms can collaborate, with everyone being able to see and hear what is being said and written.
With a touch of their fingertips, users can make comments or observations on the whiteboard screen. Remote conference participants are brought into the whiteboard environment through the My Teamwork UC Desktop software.
The Visual Collaboration suite also includes video-conferencing clients for desktops, and dedicated endpoints from Radvision and LifeSize for boardrooms and conference rooms of all sizes.
Pulling all of this together is Alcatel-Lucent's OpenTouch communications middleware platform that is designed to let users move seamlessly between communication devices and modes, and takes into account such consumer technologies as smartphones and social media that are moving into the business world.
Video-conferencing offerings usually require an MCU (multipoint control unit) port for every room system that connects, calls and transcodes video. However, Alcatel-Lucent's use of its OpenTouch technology removes the need for MCUs, which reduces system costs and streamlines the offering, Espinosa said. OpenTouch will manage everything from telepresence systems to the whiteboard to all other endpoints.
"OpenTouch will control everything," he said.